Friday 3 October 2008

Owls, logs and lanterns

Today there's a bitter wind blowing off the nearby mountains and I'm quite surprised the highest peaks haven't got a covering of snow. With such a bracing wind what better way to keep warm than a morning spent cutting logs ready for the winter days ahead. My husband loves his chainsaw and everything to do with cutting wood. I think he might have been a coppicer or charcoal burner had he lived 100 years ago. His enthusiasm and hard work thankfully will provide us with log fires until next spring when the process will begin all over again.

 We are surrounded by woodland so fallen branches are plentiful.
You have to know which wood burns quickly or slowly, gives good heat or doesn't. Its all a mystery to me.
The leaves are only just beginning to change colour but the old crab apple tree outside our back door is always ahead of the game and is now shedding its leaves quite quickly. Festooned with blossom in spring and glowing gold in autumn it gives real value for money. I'm always amazed at how many different shaped leaves it has. The ones in the picture above all come from this tree.

The woods are quieter than they were in spring and summer. The sound of birds foraging in the leaf litter alternates with the delicate tap-tapping of falling acorns as they bounce off branches on their descent to the ground. The occasional hoot of a tawny owl is not uncommon. We see this bird quite often around the garden during the day. This little tawny was photographed on our windowsill at midday.

When I was a child my story books always seemed to feature wise old owls like the one pictured above. It is from one of my first books, 'Baba' by Betty Larom. Owls always wore specs and often carried a book under one wing to reinforce their wisdom.

When she was very small my daughter was given a wonderful book entitled 'Come Follow Me' by Gyo Fujikawa. All about the secret world of elves, fairies, gnomes and trolls, the illustrations are really endearing and not at all frightening for a young child. The picture above is attached to a poem about Halloween in which three little witches dance with a black cat amongst the pumpkins. Two haughty owls watch the dancing and frown. No books and no mention of wisdom!

Ted is ready for Halloween but is looking a bit glum wouldn't you say?  A woolly jumper could be just what he needs. With this in mind I have two patterns for you this week. The first features Jack-o'-Lantern and the second little owls.


Repeating every 12 stitches, the lanterns are easy to knit and I rather like the idea of knitting a row of smiling ones with just a single frowning one somewhere in the row.

Using bright yellow for the features adds to the effect and really does make the lantern look as if it has a candle inside. To achieve this effect use yellow yarn for the features when knitting or do as I have done and embroider the yellow on later.



The owl repeats every 12 stitches

Both Jack-o-Lantern and the owl would be great for Halloween themed knitwear. You have just a month to complete a project. Have fun!